November 13, 2014

We Christians are the World's Most Persecuted People

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The persecution of our brother and sister Catholic/Christians continues unabated all over the world. In the Middle East, North Africa and Asia Minor, thousands upon thousands of our brothers and sisters in faith have been summarily tortured, raped, beheaded, hanged, burned, shot and even buried alive simply because they love Jesus Christ. Men and women, (including priests and nuns), and innocent children are the victims of this carnage. How can their fellow human beings hate so much that they would do these things to them? There can be only one answer. They have sold their very souls to the "angel of pride", Lucifer aka Satan.

Where is the outrage? Why is this happening? Why does the western world's newsmakers, print and broadcast, seem to ignore these atrocities? Where are the voices from the leaders of the west in speaking out in contempt and disdain against those who commit these heinous acts and proclaim them virtuous? How can the United States of America know these things and still give billions of dollars in aid to nations that allow such things to happen within their own borders?

Pope Francis, at the conclusion of his November 12 general audience said, "I turn to those who have political responsibility both on a local and on an international level, as well as to all persons of goodwill, with a heartfelt appeal to engage in a vast mobilization of consciences in favor of persecuted Christians. They have the right to once again find security and serenity in their own countries, freely professing OUR faith."

Pope Francis intentionally used the word OUR. OUR is a possessive pronoun. We are part of them and the Pope wants us to be aware of that fact. Is anyone LISTENING? These are OUR brothers and sisters in faith. They have the same belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior as we do. But OUR Christian relatives are being slaughtered because WE all are hated. If we were over there with OUR brothers and sisters our life expectancy would drop dramatically.

History repeats, over and over and over. Genocide(s) have accounted for millions upon millions of deaths to people just like all of us. Just in the 20th century alone there have probably been 100,000,000 people murdered and oftentimes it was for "religious" beliefs. The Nazis alone accounted for the extermination of 6,000,000 people simply because they were Jewish. From 1915-1918, Christian Armenians in Turkey were slaughtered by those who had come to power. Three Muslim men, known as the Young Turks, had seized control of the government from the Sultan and orchestrated this horrendous slaughter so as to expand their empire. When they were done 2,000,000 Christian Armenian men, women and children had been killed.

Today the group known as ISIS, a band of Islamic maniacs, are rampaging through the Middle East killing Catholic/Christians by the thousands. These "people" do not even have a country of their own. They are wanting to start a Caliphate, a completely Muslim world ruled by Sharia Law. In their hate filled, bloody-thirsty quest to accomplish this they have "cleansed" entire cities of Christians. Where is the outrage from the civilized world? Why is the American press so silent about these atrocities? Could it be that those in power also want Christianity obliterated and show their approval by their deafening silence?

If you happen to read this I would ask that you remember the following Catholic/Christians and say a prayer for them,whether or not they are dead or still alive:
Father Frans Van der Lugt; a Catholic priest who spent over 50 years in Syria helping the poor. He was beaten and shot to death by ISIS last spring. He was 76 years old;
Salem Matti Kourk; because of a heart condition he had to stay behind in the town of Bartella as ISIS overran it. After three weeks in hiding Salem left his hiding place in a quest to find some food and water. He was caught by ISIS maniacs and beaten to death with clubs. They took his mangled body and placed it in front of the Church of the Virgin Mary which they had already destroyed.
Asia Bibi: has been in prison in Pakistan for five years. Her crime? Drinking the same water that the Muslims were going to drink. After being mocked as a Catholic she defended Jesus. She was immediately accused of "blasphemy" and sentenced to be hanged. She has five children and this sentence may be carried out any day as the Pakistani Supreme Court upheld the verdict.
"Little Christy": this was a baby, (less than two years old) who was used as a photo-op by ISIS before being killed. One of the most horrendous photos I have ever seen. See the Christy link for the full story.
Miriam Ibrahim: is alive and back in the United States. But she was held in prison in Sudan for months, chained to a bed and forced to give birth to her baby that way. Her two year old son was imprisoned with her. Her 'crime'. She became Christian and did not know that her long, lost father, had been a Muslim. Thus, she became a "blasphemer" and was sentenced to be hanged. World pressure finally forced her release. One good ending interlaced amongst the bloodthirsty madness.

As the Christmas season approaches we must accept the fact that a war against all Catholic/Christians, including you if you believe in Jesus Christ, is raging. We must be ready to defend our faith at all times. Let us join together in prayer, every day, for all our brothers and sisters, being persecuted all over the world, including in the USA.  We ask our heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, His Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit to hear our prayer(s).                                                                                          

November 9, 2014

A Piano Concert Given on the Road to Nothingness

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

Until about four years ago, Marty, was never sick a day in her life. That is when the Lymphoma was discovered and the chemo began. The cancer would come and go and so would the PeT Scans and continued chemo treatments. Truthfully, it was never much more than an inconvenience. She never got sick, lost weight or had any of those stereotypical cancer fears materialize.

What did unexpectedly occur were the ever more frequent cognitive disruptions. Memory lapses, asking the same question over and over and things like that. I spoke to her oncologist and he silently said with raised eyebrows, tightened lips  and a shrug, ‘there might be a problem’.

Anesthesia administered during surgery for a severely broken ankle on August 1, dragged her deeply into the nether world which, up until then, had only been toying with her.  Now it grabbed her and yanked her in. On September 24 a heart attack (A-Fib) resolved any uncertainty. Her “Fog” or CRCD (Cancer Related Cognitive Dysfunction) was diagnosed as Alzheimer’s Disease. Quicksand could not have been more efficient.  Onward and downward.

The hospital and rehab stay after the ankle surgery had lasted 20 days and the days spent in the hospital and rehab after the A-Fib attack lasted 33 days. She thought I had moved her into a new apartment and was wondering why I would not stay there at night. Like a good “soldier” she would wait patiently, hour after hour after hour, until I returned the next day. Then, like a three year old who had been found by her daddy, her face would light up and she would say, “Oh thank God, you found me.” She knew she was “saved” and would hug me tight and not let go.

I freely admit that every damn day on the way home I cried thinking of how sad this was. My intelligent, independent, wife had become a lost child, the victim of an insidious demon inside her head who was erasing her brain. I had turned into a blubbering idiot. This Alzheimer’s thing was surely a despicable foe.

Marty returned home on October 26 with a bag full of new medications and a mind that was telling her that I had moved her into a ‘new’ house. She asked me if we “were married’, if we would sleep together in the same bed and if, in fact, her piano was new. After two weeks she had recovered some of (not all) her sense of belonging  in “her home”. She was still not sure where things should go and kept moving items from here to there without me knowing. I have (so far) had to search hi and low for the shampoo, the toothpaste, parmigianna cheese,  combs and hairbrush etc.  So be it—together we plod forward with her doing whatever she will do and me learning to (at all times) expect the unexpected. This is a minute to minute journey, unplanned, without a destination and very spontaneous.  But—there can be beautiful moments and yesterday one unexpectedly came along.

Marty has played piano since she was a child and is quite an accomplished pianist. A concern of mine while she was in rehab was that she might not remember how to play. I have been told she will actually forget how to. Yesterday, those concerns were put on hold.

I was in my cluttered, paper strewn office staring at the computer monitor when piano music began filling the house. I smiled to myself as I began to listen and then I realized this was something different. This was not the usual Marty, this was a transcendent  Marty. I could not believe what I was hearing. She was playing the most beautiful music I had ever heard  her play. “Stella by Starlight” filled the rooms followed by “Autumn Leaves” and then, my favorite, Chopin’s Major in E flat. I watched from the hallway and saw that she was lost within the music that she was bringing forth on that old piano.


Watching her play was like observing one of God’s magnificent flowers fully bloom. Realizing that these were now fleeting  moments soon to be no more I had the good sense to record the entire hour  that she played.  I figured that when she does forget how to play and does not recognize the piano or maybe even me, that music will still be here. That is when I will play it for her.  Maybe, just maybe, from whatever world she is in, she will take pause and smile. Maybe she will remember some of her music. Maybe, just maybe…

October 30, 2014

All Saint's Day: Never Forget that Our Christian Roots are Embedded in Judaism

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

My father has been dead for many years but he is still teaching me how to be  Catholic. He is doing this by living in my mind via memories of his personal Christianity in action.  The Feast of All Saint's Day flips a switch that turns on one of these memories. That is also when I began to embrace the fact that the vast majority of the first Catholics were born and raised Jewish .

I remember that Friday night long ago. We lived in the south Bronx in a five story walk-up on Sherman Ave. There were eight of us in a four room apartment and we never even considered that it was small and cramped. The neighborhood was the same for all families except for those living up on the upscale Grand Concourse. That's where the "money" people lived in buildings with courtyards and sometimes the courtyards even had fish ponds in the middle.

It was still September and  summer had not yet left. Back then no-one had air-conditioning and everyone kept their windows open praying for a breeze. The screaming started a little past midnight. It filled the back alleyway and floated unmercifully upward and into the open windows. Our apartment was directly above the window from where the screams were coming and on this night they seemed exceptionally close and  blood-curdling. Pop got up and my brother, Danny, whispered from his bed, "I think he's going down there."

We watched as Pop left our apartment and headed down the stairs. We followed and quietly sat on the upper landing stretching our necks so our heads would make a right-angle turn to see down and around the landing below. We watched our father, who without hesitation, walked over to the apartment door and began banging on it with his fist. This was the apartment of Leo and Sophie Rabinowitz. Leo was the landlord and he owned the building. No one dared complain to the landlord about noise coming from his apartment even if it was about midnight screams that curled the hairs on your neck. But Pop was not going down to complain. He was going to see if he could help. He had this way about him and sometimes he was uncommonly instinctive.

The door opened and Leo poked his head out. Pop started talking to him and, incredibly, Leo just stood there listening. The man was short, maybe 5'2", he had a droopy mustache that needed tending and his sagging shoulders said he was obviously worn out. He held a pipe off to the side of his head and his face seemed to be saying, "Please help me." Pop continued talking for a minute or so and suddenly Leo Rabinowitz, the "feared" Jewish landlord, buried his head in my father's chest and began crying unashamedly. Danny and I were stunned. Then Pop, his arm around Leo's shoulder, disappeared into Leo's apartment.

We both went back into our apartment and lay there conjecturing away at all the possibilities that may have caused this unexpected union between a landlord and tenant, a Jewish man and a Catholic man, between two people who were neighbors but were not really except for location and who had nothing in common. Within fifteen minutes Bobby, Johnny and Carolyn had joined Danny and myself in the conversation and by the time our  five imaginations extrapolated each other's ideas, we "knew"  that Leo Rabinowitz was a communist spy and he had somehow killed our father and disposed of his dismembered body in the coal furnace down in the basement.

As we plotted our course of action Pop came back into our apartment. It had been a few hours, or at least it seemed that way. Pop just walked through our bedroom and headed to the back room moving ever so slowly. When he paused by his workbench he sat on the stool, lowered his head into his upraised fingers, took in a deep breath and sighed. Then, ever so quietly, he pulled his beads from his pocket and started praying the  rosary. None of us interrupted and I think we all just fell asleep.

We found out about those screams the next morning. Sophie was having nightmares all right, nightmares of her two boys, ages 12 and 9, being clubbed to death with rifle butts by the Nazis, who also  insisted that the boy's mom and dad watch as they killed their sons. To this day I cannot imagine what those moments in their lives were like. They were loving parents and were rendered helpless as godless people murdered their children, enjoying inflicting their heinous butchery on innocents. The ultimate torture distributed by the Nazis was allowing Leo and Sophie to watch. Sophie's screams told that story night after night, year after year after year. How ghastly and cruel those memories had to be.

All Saint's Day is celebrated on November 1. The gospel reading for the day is from Matthew 5:1-12, The Beatitudes. When the priest reads them the switch will flip and I will go back to that Friday once again. It always happens. I hear #2,  "Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted"; then #5, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy"; and #7, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."

Pop lived all three of those Beatitudes that Friday night long ago. He mourned with his Jewish neighbors, he was merciful to them and he brought a sense of peace into their lives. My gift was being able to remember how a Catholic man reached out to his Jewish neighbors and how they became friends. I also remember that because of that friendship Leo and Sophie Rabinowitz became friends with other folks in the building and in the neighborhood.

My final lesson in all of this was when Pop told me to get out my missal and read the Roman Canon. I did and began reading., silently. "Out loud", he said. I paused for a moment and looked at him. He said, "Just do it."

I did until I got to the part that read, "whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary---,and blessed Joseph, her spouse---", etc. "Okay, stop," he said. "Tell me about all those people."

"What about them?" I don't understand."

"Never ever forget that most all of them were Jewish, including Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Our roots are deeply embedded in Judaism. We Catholic/Christians and Jews are joined at the spiritual hip "in perpetuity. Leo and Sophie Rabinowitz are our brother and sister too. Never forget that."

I never forgot.

October 29, 2014

On Her Feast Day: Meet Blessed Maria Restituta; Holocaust Victim

IT MAKES  SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

May 1, 1894,  was  a happy day for Anton and Marie Kafka.  Marie had just given birth  to her sixth child, a girl, and mom and her daughter were both doing fine. The proud parents named their new baby, Helena.  Devout Catholics, Anton and Marie had  Helena  baptized into the faith thirteen days after her birth in their parish church, The Church of the Assumption, in the town of Husovice located in Austria.  Before Helena reached her second birthday and due to financial circumstances, the family had to move and settled in the city of Vienna.  This is where Helena and her siblings would remain and grow up.

Helena was a good student and worked hard. She received her First Holy Communion in May of 1905 in St. Brigitta Church and was confirmed in the same church a year later. After eight years of school she spent another year in housekeeping school and by the age of 15 was working as a servant, a cook and learning nursing. She became an assistant nurse at Lainz City Hospital in 1913. This was Helena's first contact with the Franciscan Sisters of  Christian Charity and she was immediately moved to become a Sister herself.  On April 25, 1914, Helena Kafka  joined the Franciscan sisters and on October 23, 1915, became Sister Maria Restituta. She made her final vows one year later and began working solely as a nurse.

When World War I ended Sister Maria was the lead surgical nurse at Modling Hospital in Vienna.  She and all other Austrians had never heard of Adolf Hitler and could never have imagined  that one day their beloved nation would  be annexed into the German Republic because of this man.  After a successful coup d'etat by the Austrian Nazi Party on  March 12, 1938, these unforeseen  and unimagined things came to pass. The Nazis, under Hitler, now controlled the once proud Austrian nation.

Sister Restituta was very outspoken in her opposition to the Nazi regime. When a new wing to the hospital was built she hung a Crucifix in each of the new bedrooms. The Nazis demanded that they be removed telling Sister Restituta that she would be dismissed if she did not comply. She refused and the crucifixes remained  hanging on the walls   One of the doctors on staff, a fanatical Nazi, would have none of it. He denounced her to the Nazi Party and on Ash Wednesday, 1942, she was arrested by the Gestapo after coming out of the operating room. The "charges" against her included  "hanging crucifixes and writing a poem that mocked Hitler".

SisterRestituta.jpg
Blessed Maria Restituta
Sister Maria Restituta, the former Helena Kafka, loved her catholic faith and filled with the Spirit, wanted to do nothing more than serve the sick. The Nazis promptly sentenced her to death by the guillotine for "favouring the enemy and conspiracy to commit high treason".  The Nazis offered her freedom if she would abandon the Franciscans she loved so much.  She adamantly refused.  An appeal for clemency went as far as the desk of Martin Bormann, Hitler's personal secretary and Nazi Party Chancellor. His response was that her execution "would provide effective intimidation for others who might want to resist the Nazis".  Sister Maria Restituta spent her final days in prison caring for the sick. Because of her love for the Crucifix and the Person who was nailed to it and died on it, she was beheaded on March 30, 1943.  She was 48 years old.                                                    
 Pope John Paul II visited Vienna on June 21,1998.  That was the day  Helena Kafka, the girl who originally went to housekeeping school to learn how to be a servant, was beatified by the Pope and declared Blessed Maria Restituta.  She had learned how to serve extremely well  always serving others before herself.

Blessed Marie Restituta, please pray for us.
                                                                               

October 26, 2014

Halloween and The Legend of the Jack-O-Lantern (one version)

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


by Larry Peterson

Long ago in Ireland, the land of shamrocks, leprechauns, soft winds and smiles, there lived a man named Jack. Jack was quite lazy and did not like to work. But he had the gift of "blarney" and could talk the peat off the moss. He would tell wondrous tales about his adventures as a world traveler and the people in his village would be held spellbound by his golden tongue. Alas, Jack outsmarted himself when he  stole money from the townsfolk. He thought that they were not very smart and would never find out. But they did find out and began chasing him down the streets of the village.

As Jack ran down the road as fast as he could he rounded a bend and ran smack into the devil. The devil smiled at Jack and told him it was time for him to die and that he was there to take his soul. Jack quickly convinced the devil that if he would let him go and promise to never take his soul he would give him all the souls of the folks who were chasing him. "And how do you plan to do that, Jack?" the devil asked.

"Well now, all ye have ta do is turn ye-self into a pot of gold coins. Then I will give the coins to the people and you will be in all of their pockets. They will be yours."

Since many souls were better than only one, the devil readily agreed and turned himself into a pot of gold coins. Jack gave the coins to all the people and they went away smiling never realizing that they had given themselves to the devil in return for money.

So Jack lived on, grew old and, like all mortal men, finally died. His life had been so sinful on earth that he could not get into heaven and since the devil could not take his soul, he could not get into hell. He had nowhere to go. He asked the devil how he was supposed to see because he was in complete darkness. The devil laughed and tossed Jack a burning ember from the fires of hell, an ember that would never burn out.

Jack, using the ember to guide his way, found a pumpkin patch (some say it was turnips) and carved out a pumpkin. He put the ember inside and began carrying it around so he could see where he was going. To this day he wanders the earth seeking a resting place. And that is why he is known as "Jack-O'-Lantern" or "Jack of the Lantern".

"HAPPY HALLOWEEN" 

October 21, 2014

Meet Asia Bibi; A Catholic/Christian Mom Sentenced to Death for Being a "Blasphemer"

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME
                                                               

by Larry Peterson

We are so blessed to be living in the Unites States of America. The freedoms we have enjoyed are beyond compare. Yet there are those Americans who will fight to have these very freedoms we enjoy stripped away to satisfy their own ideologies. How sad this is and what fools they are. Especially those who try to strip away religious freedom from those who disagree with them.

They call Christians  "intolerant" because Christianity stands against their preferred mantra of  hedonistic, secular "virtue". I wish that some of these people would try to imagine what it is like for so many people who live in countries without these freedoms.  I wish they could get out of their own comfort zones, remove their shoes or sneakers, and try on the shoes worn by Asia Bibi.

When you slip into Asia's shoes you realize that you are now a poor farm worker, the mother of five children and you worked in the fields harvesting berries. You are 44 years old and your husband is a brick laborer, a man who mixes the mortar and hauls it to the brick layer. You both work very hard and put in long hours to care for your children. You are also Roman Catholic. Your full name is Aasiya Noreen but you are better known as Asia Bibi. The country you live in is Pakistan.

You remember that hot, sunny day in June of 2009. You remember being out in the field working alongside the other women. They told you to go and fetch them water from the nearby well. (They are Muslim and you are a Christian. You are "beneath" their level and must do the menial tasks required). So you dutifully went to the well and pulled up the water. There was an old tin cup nearby and you picked it up, filled it with water and took a drink. You knew you were not allowed to drink from the same cup as the others lest you "defile" it and you made sure you did not. But by taking that simple sip of water the die had been cast.

Alas, using the dirty, rusted cup to drink from mattered not. A field hand angrily tells you that you are forbidden to drink the same water as a Muslim. You are already considered "unclean" because you are Christian. The other workers hurriedly gathered around you and started cursing you and your religion. Your faith must have been exploding in you because you defended it immediately. You summoned your resolve and remember saying, "I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ who died for the sins of mankind. What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind." WOW!

Later that day some of the workers reported to the local cleric that you had "insulted" Mohammed. A  mob came to your home, beat you and your family and you had to be rescued by the police. The police investigated your remarks and arrested you for the crime of "blasphemy". Under the country's Sharia Law you are not equal to a Muslim so what you had to say was only considered "half" as important as what they had to say.

Trying to defend yourself was an effort in futility. They hold you in a local jail for one year and then you are found guilty of Blasphemy. Your sentence is death by hanging. You are shocked and horrified and helpless. Your husband is sickened and your children lost inside themselves. You can do nothing. You are sent to prison and placed on death row.

It is now 2014. After a hearing that lasted a few hours, the Pakistani High Court upheld the verdict handed down in 2010. Your impending execution by hanging is affirmed. People and organizations around the world have been clamoring for your release. So far it is to no avail.

If you have had the guts to "try on Asia'a shoes" can you get a sense of what life might be like for Christians and others who have no religious freedom. Can you imagine what this Christian woman, the mother of five, must be feeling? She has been living in a dank, stinking hole for almost five years. The only visitor she can receive is her husband and a doctor. How disgusting and inhumane to do this to someone just because they have a different belief than you do. How reprehensible to vilify a wife and mom simply because she took a sip of water from an old tin cup. Is this what you want someday?

Asia Bibi is a human being just like all of us. She has family she loves. She has children she wants to hug and feed and nurture and tuck in at night and tend to their scrapes and runny noses. She is hard working, kind, and generous to her neighbors. She is not different than most other people. No different except for one thing. She is a Catholic in a Muslim world. Therefore, because of her "beliefs", she is hated and despised.  In the highly "civilized" world of 2014 we are seeing more vicious and brutal murders of people who follow Christ than at any time in history.

Over 400,000 signatures have been collected on petitions asking for Asia's release. Pope Benedict XVI called for the charges against her to be dismissed. These pleas have fallen on deaf ears. In fact, a Christian minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti and a Pakistani official, Salmann Taseer, were both murdered for defending Asia. Her family has gone into hiding because of all the death threats they have received. Finally, the word "on the street" is that if Asia is released she will be killed anyway.
Are you tired of walking in Asia's shoes yet?

I will never understand Americans who "fight" to get rid of religious freedoms. If you do not like religion you do not have to participate in any of it. You are living in a country which accepts and promotes this kind of  freedom. The United States of America was NOT founded so people like you can destroy people who disagree with you. When you do that you are no different than those that want to hang Asia Bibi.  The only difference is you do not use a rope and a gallows as a weapon of choice. The weapon you use to destroy your fellow American "enemy" the U.S. Constitution. You have managed to turn it against itself to defile religious freedom. How clever you all are.

Many people around the world are praying for the safe release of Asia Bibi. Americans trying to destroy religious freedom in America might take pause and think of her also.  She has been imprisoned  for five years and is set to hang because she was a Catholic who took a drink of  "Muslim" water from an old tin cup. This could never happen in America. Or could it?




October 15, 2014

The Catholic Church is the "Bride" of Christ and the Holy Spirit has Her Back: NO Problem

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

It is quite apparent to me that the 2014 Vatican Synod on the Family has been hijacked by the mainstream media and press. (Maybe we should call it the Secular Media Synod). Reports of Synod actions are flying out from the keyboards about all sorts of things and none of these keyboards are privy to what any of the final Synod results will say.  For example, I opened the Tampa Tribune this morning and on the NATION & World page the headline blared,
"Vatican Reaches out to gays, cohabitants
Conservatives denounce report as "betrayal"

This was reported by Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press and the first sentence read like this;
VATICAN CITY----Gay rights groups hailed a "seismic shift" by the Catholic Church toward  gays on Monday after bishops said homosexuals had gifts to offer the church and that their partnerships, although morally problematic, provided same-sex couples with "precious" support. 

A spokesman for the LGBT "Catholics" in the United States and around the world called the Synod's actions "a light in the darkness, a dramatic new tone from a church hierarchy that has long denied the very existence of committed and loving gay and lesbian partnerships."

Tell me please, what does the average "news reader" get from that? In a world where iPads and Androids and laptops and Twitter and Facebook fill cyber world with all sorts of information, just those two short news clips leading a story are enough to give a person all the news they think they might "need" to determine what is going on. But this is NOT what the Synod has done. Once again the media, in its quest to make "points" evades the truth.

You know what, we all had better step back and take a breath. The secular media is defining the synod on its own terms. There is NO "seismic shift" taking place inside the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has NEVER DENIED the "existence of committed and loving gay and lesbian partnerships". The Church has always taught that sex outside of marriage is sinful. That applies to heterosexual couples as well as homosexual couples. The gay community seems to ignore this fact. So do many heterosexual couples. If  unwed couples wish to live together they are supposed to be celibate. That s nothing NEW.

The fact is, the Catholic Church's end game with marriage is a sacramental union between a man and woman. As Cardinal Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod said as the Synod convened, "----to seek the truth which is not an abstract concept or the result of philosophical or theological speculation", but the person of Christ, the God-man, man born-in-time, and Son of the Father: 'I am the way, the Truth and the Life' (John 14:6). He is the point of departure."

The Catholic Church was founded by Christ 2000 years ago. The Church is His "bride". We are all part of the Catholic family. (The word catholic means 'universal' so it is for everyone--if they so choose). This Synod is about family, the Catholic family. That is the primary purpose. Secondly, family starts with a marriage. Not a marriage as defined by the secular world but marriage as defined by the Church. The fact is, within the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacramental union. It is called Holy Matrimony. Christ Himself instituted the Sacrament of Matrimony.

That is the starting point for the members of the synod. This is critical to remember. These synod participants are ordained priests and bishops. They know that their primary purpose is to defend and protect the faith they love and have vowed to serve. Herein is where the confusion begins. They are all different yet all part of the same family. As with any family, discussion among family members about critical family issues (finances, health care, living arrangements, education etc) can be diverse, opinionated, and sometimes even intransigent. Emotions might get elevated as different personal beliefs clash.

This is what the family hierarchy does. They discuss, opine and hopefully arrive at a decision that  reaches out to all family members. Sometimes they have to reach out slowly and "gradually". Most importantly, they stay within the family's value system and, no matter who likes it or not, do not stray from that primary goal. Yes, the primary goal is the health and welfare and well-being of the  entire family. That is defined in its family doctrines and dogma. In the case of the Catholic Church, that family and its belief system can be traced back 2000 years and more.

Jesus Christ created the church hierarchy when He founded His church. He appointed his apostle, Peter, the head of the church. Peter, thus, was the first Pope and his lineage can be traced, unbroken, down to Pope Francis who is the 266th Pope. There is one all important factor in all of this that everyone should remember, especially the secular world. The Catholic Church, when it conclaves as it is doing within the Synod, is not political and it is not ideological. There may be arguments and disagreements but that is the way within a family. However, when the day is done, the one who has the final say is Jesus Christ and he does it through the Holy Spirit who guides this Church. Certain rules have been in place for centuries and some can never change.  This is our faith. This is what we believe. This is why I am waiting until spring of 2016 for the final results of the Synod's work. I refuse to get my information from the main stream secular media.

Finally, according to Catholic World News on October 14, the synod fathers,in summing up synod's post-discussion report, suggested some of the following:
.the synod should encourage and thank faithful Catholic families
.clarify what is meant by gradualism
.the Holy Family should be presented as a model of family life
.the word "sin" is almost absent from the document
.recalling "the prophetic tone of the word of Jesus," the synod should NOT conform to the world's  mentality.
.in offering pastoral care to homosexuals, the Church should not "create an impression of a positive  evaluation of this orientation"

I am not worried about this at all. The Holy Spirit has the back of the "Bride" of Christ. No problem.

October 11, 2014

A Different Love Story: Remembering the "Prison Angel"; Mother Antonia Brenner

Mother Antonia with prisoners at La Mesa Prison

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

This is a love story. No, it is not about romantic love. Rather, it is about the love of
Christ exploding in the soul of a woman who ran with her God given gift and did her best to shower it upon some of the meanest and worst criminals in Mexico.

This is about Mother Antonia Brenner, who was born in Beverly Hills, CA, was married and divorced twice, had seven children and ultimately became known as the "Prison Angel" of La Mesa Prison, the worst and most dangerous prison in all of Mexico.  Mother Antonia died one year ago on October 17. On the anniversary of her passing I just thought I would remember her with a few words.

 Mary Clarke was born in Beverly Hills, Calif.on December 1, 1926. Her dad, Joe Clarke, was a successful businessman and Mary and her two siblings grew up surrounded with affluence and the glitz of the movie world. One thing was certain about Papa Joe. No matter how good life was for his family he made sure his kids were always taught to help the less fortunate. The desire to help others would blossom in Mary and was one day destined to explode. However, before the "explosion" Mary embarked on a circuitous life journey.

Mary married at 18 and had three children. The first died shortly after birth. That marriage ended in divorce and then Mary married again. The wedding took place in Las Vegas and it was to a man named Carl Brenner. She and Carl had five children together but ultimately, that marriage also ended in divorce. Mary had somehow distanced herself from her strict Catholic upbringing. No matter, it seems that the Holy Spirit had his eye on Mary Clarke her entire life. It was time for Him to shower His grace on His daughter.

Mary became more and more involved in charity work and has her seven children got older she began to visit La Mesa Penitentiary to deliver donations such as  food, medicine and clothing to the prisoners. The plight of the prisoners at La Mesa began to impact her greatly and as time went by her growing compassion and love of neighbor would become focused on these people. They would become her specialty, her ministry, her purpose in life.

In 1977, after her kids were grown and her second divorce was final, Mary gave away her expensive belongings, moved out of her home in Ventura and headed to La Mesa. She had received permission to move there. Her new home was to be a 10' by 10' cell. She would live as any other inmate, sleeping in her concrete cell and having only cold water and prison food. The amenities in her room included a Crucifix on the wall, a Bible and Spanish dictionary nearby and a hard, prison bed. In the morning she lined up with the other prisoners for roll call. This was to be her home for the next thirty years.

The story of how this twice divorced woman and mother of seven kids from two marriages was accepted by the Catholic Church as a Sister and founder of a new order can be found at the links provided. Suffice it to say that as time went by Sister Antonia became "La Mama" (Mother Antonia) aka The Prison Angel,  She walked freely among the drug traffickers, thieves, murderers, rapists and others touching cheeks and offering prayers. Many of these people were among the most violent and desperate of men. Yet she happily walked with them and comforted and consoled them and held their heads between her hands as they were dying. Mother Antonia Brenner truly saw the face of Christ in each and every prisoner she came in contact with. She loved them all. Why else would hardened criminals, some who had never loved or been loved,  call the diminutive woman who hailed from Beverly Hills, "La Mama"? They loved her in return.

I believe that one day Mother Antonia Brenner will be canonized a saint and inducted into the "Catholic Hall of Fame" . She was an example for each and every one of us showing us how to selflessly "love our neighbor" no matter who they might be. As the anniversary of her passing is October 17 maybe we might all pray for her intercession for a man who started his journey in  La Mesa Prison  back on March 31st. His name is Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi; USMC . Maybe the Prison Angel can put in an extra word to the True Power in our lives and help get him out to honor her on the first anniversary of her passing into her eternal reward.

Mother Antonia, please pray for Sgt. Andrew and all of us too.

October 6, 2014

The Synod has Opened: Hello Media!! It is About FAMILY!!

IT  MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The secular media (print & broadcast)  has been salivating over the Synod of Bishops that has officially opened in Rome. They have been pounding the drum about the birth of a NEW church filled with the progressiveness of the "modern, secular world". They have also completely ignored the reason this Synod has actually been called together. HELLO media, the Synod is about Family.  Stop picking and choosing what you perceive as newsworthy. Do your job. Report the facts. The primary purpose of the Synod is discussing FAMILY.

Have any of you actually read the following. Oh, I guess not. You have been  speculating way before any of this even began. Please, listen to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri. He is the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops and in his opening statements said, "Feeling free to express what is believed or what is doubtful shows what distinguishes a human being from other creatures and makes him  a responsible person before God and man."

"Consequently, discussion at the Synod is to be open. When differences arise, participants in their various roles are called NOT to stress their own interests or point of view but to seek the TRUTH which is not an abstract concept or the result of philosophical or theological speculation, but the person of Christ, the God-man, man born-in-time, and Son of the Father. 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life' (John 14:6). He is the point of of departure. The first evangelizer is Jesus, who came down to walk among us and came to be known by His word and signs and, finally, with the witness of His life."

Okay, one more time (albeit a bit shorter) "---to seek the TRUTH which is not an abstract concept or the result of philosophical or theological speculation, but the person of Christ, the God-man, man born-in-time, and Son of the Father."

This Synod, called together by an organization that has been around for over 2000 years, will strive to adhere to the truth. It will do all in its power to defend and protect the bride of Christ which is His Church. It will do all in its power to be compassionate and understanding to all people are are hurting because of certain choices they have made and which are even given approval to by some in the Church. You see, the Catholic Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. (Hey, it really is and I do not care if you do not believe me. You simply have to open your hearts and you might understand. It is a Faith thing, okay.) When the bishops of the world conclave like this they call on the Holy Spirit to guide them. He does and as the cliche goes, "He has their backs".

I think most people have been conditioned to giving the 1960s rave reviews. The decade began seeing John F. Kennedy elected the first Catholic President of the United States. It ended in a gathering of over 400,000 young people in the town of Bethel, NY. (Originally scheduled to be held in Woodstock, NY, the organizers could not get the necessary permits. It became known as "Woodstock" even though it took place over 40 miles south in Bethel.)  Woodstock had no sanitation facilities, no water except for hoses here and there and it poured rain for almost three days leaving most everyone wallowing in mud. Oh yeah, "It was great!!!"

The mid 60s, with the escalation of the war in Viet Nam and the rise of the "hippie" movement saw antiestablishmentism come under attack. Guys burned their draft cards and gals tore off their bras. This seemed to foment the start of the new generation where living together, premarital sex, birth control, and abortion started to become the new morality.  As we entered the 1970s, the family, as we knew it, was under attack and has been under attack ever since.

In his opening statement at the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri has called for TRUTH. The truth is that the Family is the very nucleus of society. The Family has its beginning when a man and woman commit to each other and then join together as one in the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is how it is in the Catholic Church. Marriage unites God's creations, a man and a woman. They vow (before God and man) to take each other and join together and remain together no matter what life hands them, until death separates them. Through the Sacrament they are strengthened and fortified to have the ability to confront all that comes their way. Most importantly, they will unite as one flesh and have children thus continuing the life of the family they have started. As the generations pass by this family grows and grows and the process continues expanding the human race as God planned.

It is not always a perfect marriage. We have this thing called Pride that is within us. We also have the Free Will that God has given us and, because He is perfect,will not ever tamper with. The secular world has promoted very successfully the beauty of self-gratification. Sacrificing for another is often times deemed foolish. The old cliche of "taking care of #1" has resonated in millions of minds. It has also been followed. Children, once thought to be the greatest joy that a husband and wife might be gifted with, are now planned and prepared for by having all the perceived material things that are deemed necessary to have before a trying to have children. Same sex couples are preaching the sermon that they have a right to "have" children too, even though this can never be and they must adopt or use an artificial means of having a child. The Church can never sanction these attitudes and these actions. In the Church the FAMILY is united in a Sacramental action and that is  how it is. This is what the media does not understand nor does it try to understand.

Everyone must remember that Marriage is not the key topic of the Synod of Bishops. FAMILY is and marriage begets a new family. The church leaders will do their best to promote a compassionate and understanding approach to divorced and remarried couples, to those who cannot receive Holy Eucharist, to those who decide to simply live together without marriage etc. But the Catholic Church cannot change its core teachings and/or principles to satisfy the mores of the current times.

Everyone should also realize that the church is always ready and willing to accept all people with open arms just as Jesus wants her to. But the individualistic and self-serving attitudes that some want to be accepted will never be. It is not about any of us as individuals. It is all about the Body of Christ which includes all of us in the Family of God. Some will accept that, some will never accept that.

One thing is for sure. The Synod will seek the TRUTH and we should all, Catholic and non/Catholic alike, appreciate their efforts to do so. In the year 2014 Truth often evades us and is even mocked. Not this time

October 1, 2014

Childhood Euthanasia: IsThis Secularism's Final Nail into the Casket of God's Natural Law?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

I think that the plague of secularism that has engulfed the entire world  possibly reached its optimal success last February. The highly civilized country of Belgium passed a law allowing children to choose to euthanize themselves.  The final seal of approval was placed on this bill by none other than King Philippe himself.  Yes, the Roman Catholic King of Belgium, Philippe Louis Leopold Marie, signed the bill making it official.  Belgian children can kill themselves if they have "good reason".  (They also need a physician, a psychologist, and the parent(s) to approve their request).

I, like King Philippe,  am also a Roman Catholic.  I know many people who are Roman Catholics . You know what?   Ironically, much of the anti-Catholic sentiment comes from those who say they are Catholic.  Many approve of abortion, contraception and gay marriage.  Heck, Belgium is a 75% Catholic country and they voted by a 2 to 1 majority for the Child Euthanasia Law.  But you cannot pick & choose what parts of the faith you like and do not like, especially when it comes to the sanctity of life.

 It is NOT easy being Catholic and God knows that. So all He asks us to do is try, try every day.  We Catholics have confession for a good reason and that is because we are always messing up.  But then you have the secularized Catholics, an oxymoron if ever there was one.  You cannot truly "love your neighbor" if you, conditions permitting, would sanction death whether through abortion or euthanasia.  The sanctity of life is God-given.  God has the power to give life and to take life.  Whenever did so many of our species get so smart that laws were enacted  giving people  the individual "right" to end the God-given life of someone else?  

This, my friends, is an abomination of the Natural Law which was established by God and is "naturally" ingrained in each of us.  We instinctively know what is right and what is wrong.  C'mon, you know you do. But how many of us go against the Natural Law because we have been desensitized to the point that we delude ourselves into thinking  something 'unnatural' is okay because it has been legalized.  Adhering to Natural Law often times involves self-denial.   However, secularism is the twisted religion of self-gratification. To hell with self-denial.

There are many high profile secularized folks who also call themselves Catholics.  Let us start with King Phillipe of Belgium.  He calls himself a Catholic but signs a law allowing children to kill themselves. Sorry King, you cannot have it both ways and you are supposed to set example.  The church you belong to rejects euthanasia as intrinsically evil.  You, therefore, have rejected Catholicism. You are a secularist and so are all those who helped pass the bill that you signed.  End of story.

The State of Oregon passed the "Death with Dignity" Act in 1997.  Washington, Montana and Vermont have also passed Euthanasia laws.  Belgium passed their euthanasia law in 2002, the second highly civilized nation to do so (The Netherlands was first).  In 2011, 1133 cases of euthanasia were reported in Belgium. In  2012, 1432. That figure represents 2% of all deaths in that country.  Statistics show that the suicide rate of those who have undergone sex change surgery is as high as 31%. Why such despair?  Why such hopelessness?

I really believe it is because many have the misguided and illogical notion that our happiness depends on "things".  Good health, money, position and material goods have become the god that never satisfies. Worshipping those things are the violation of the God’s First Commandment. Secularism honors the god of hopelessness and despair. The God of mercy and love has been rejected for a false god.  And, after all those self-inflicted deaths, they pass a euthanasia law for children.  How sad this is.

King Philippe is one of many highly placed people who have embraced secularism and then pretend that they are being virtuous by giving approval to all things for all people.  Legalization of drugs, of abortion, of euthanasia, of same-sex marriage, are all the result of a civilized society that has deluded itself into a false happiness.  This false happiness is never attained and ultimately leads people off a cliff into a sea of misery. Those that might have the "temerity" to say "NO" are branded as intolerant.  At least those folks can still sport a truthful smile even though it might have cost them defilement and persecution to keep it.

One final thought. Imagine a child of seven or eight years old who has a terrible disease that can lead to long term disability, many surgeries and no human guarantee of survival. Yet, many children with the same disease have survived and led full lives. Now imagine the doctor advising the parents that their child will have to endure years of torment and that they have an option. How hard would it be for those parents to talk their child into accepting euthanasia because, “you will never hurt again and mommy and daddy will be with you through the whole thing.”

How far we have come in our civilized world.